I first ventured north in early 1972 with Frank Pithers, photographer working with Surfing Life.
I was lucky to be included on this trip as a 17 to 18 year old Northern Beaches surfer, short on life experience.
Also along for the ride in Frank’s Combi van was a Manly older guy John Otton.
We were headed straight for Yamba and would meet up with David Treloar and Brad Mayes who both had relocated to the region and were actually living the north coast dream of country life, uncrowded quality waves and supplementing this by manufacturing boards on their rented farmhouse property.
We were privileged to spend some time at the farmhouse and witness David in the sanding bay, which was actually outdoors and if you think about it probably the best environment for your enduring health if you happen to be a sander.
But beyond that we were lucky enough to surf consecutive days of quality point surf.
Or maybe it was engineered by Frank who had recognised the signs of impending possible swell in that era of no surf forecasting.
No doubt there was a low somewhere on the ABC news weather map that tickled Frank’s wave barometer.
The other thing I consider myself fortunate to experience was to surf with David, Brad and John.
To this point I guess I was a little Narrabeen-centric which is a good thing, the surf environment at NN back then was healthy, dynamic and the best place to evolve your surfing with an unbelievable pool of talent to be inspired by.
But to broaden ones horizons never hurt.
Same for me with John in particular I could really relate to his surfing. He was a big guy like me and a smooth cruiser with perfect technique but with a lot of power.
John was surfing a bigger board beyond 7’0 which was big for then, I think I was on a 6’6 and Baddy maybe a 6’8. So John was not on trend, but surfed what he liked and I’m sure this style and length of board was great at The Bower in particular.
When you surf good waves it adds another dimension to surfing where hold in turns and positioning out of the top require precision and skill.
I was still a rookie shaper at this point so was like a sponge absorbing anything that stood out and fired the imagination.
David’s surfing and boards did this for me on that first trip.
His surfing even back then was somewhat old school in that he was all about the deep power bottom turn to set up tight surfing in the pocket.
This style to me is timeless but it was more than David’s surfing, his boards were intriguing.
He was into this foil thickness distribution that would become the foundation or cornerstone of my shapes to this day.
I was pretty impressionable back then but even so it is a huge gift to bestow on someone, a lifelong direction.
I’m not sure that David knows this or would care but thanks so much.
However I give myself some credit for paying attention and looking at the manifest situation of the time and going from there.
The thickness distribution in David’s board was simply a refined deckline going quite thin to the tail.
But the beauty of this was that it created a beautiful deckline in association with the rail line that was obviously streamlined and right.
You would look at the board and think that there is no way that this is not gunna go fast, fit in and hold.
Which it did.
So fast forward to January 2016 I’m back with my wife and brother, Brad and John are no longer with us but David is still a fixture and senior statesman of the region.
My boards still have links to that first trip and I’m here primarily because now there is surf forecasting and the banks in Sydney have been average.
Also I would like to feel the flow and speed of some of my boards in quality waves to make sure I’m on the right track with the balance of rocker to concave etc.
I find I’ve gone John Otton and am riding for the most part a 7’0 board, not because I’m not on trend, I think I am for my age, level and fitness.
I’m nothing if not practical these days but still feel the tug of responsibility to test cutting edge small wave boards if at all possible.
North Coast in the holidays is probably not best case scenario for me to surf a shortboard so I find myself pulling out the DSC 7’0 20¼ 2 11/16 round tail for most sessions.
This keeps me in the game as far as bagging a reasonable wave on the point is concerned.
Even my brother Mark opts for more length surfing a Face Dancer 6’8 20⅛ 2 11/16 round-tail.
David is surfing a throwback to the 70’s board that so influenced me way back.
It was interesting to see his version of that time period in what looked like 7’0 with the foil thickness distribution just as I remember. The board has a wide squaretail with down rails (low hard) and was originally a single fin but now converted to a quad set up.
David is surfing well with speed and flow, the quad fins seem to loosen the board in the transition at the end of the turning arc.
We all do OK, it has been a successful couple of days surfing until Mark gets caught too deep on one and his back foot slips off the back and he injures his hamstring.
I didn’t return to Sydney this time with any new ground-breaking ideas or directions, but was able to confirm that the DSC 7’0 is a good board that works when the waves are good.
You have speed hold and flow just like I saw all those years ago surfing with John, David and Brad.
There is a great little community surrounding the epicentre of the Point.
From the older generation to groms all surfing their wave.
It is hard to get a wave there as a result but that is how it should be, healthy competition in the water.